Commonplace Book #177

1927: Let any group of ministers gather and you will find someone declaring fervently, “No one ever tells me what to say. My congregation give me perfect liberty.” That is just another way of quieting an uneasy conscience; for we all know that if we explore the full meaning of a gospel of love its principles will be found to run counter to cherished prejudices. It is of course not impossible to retain freedom of the pulpit, but if anyone is doing so without the peril of defections from his ranks and opposition to his message, he is deceiving himself about the quality of his message. Either his message is too innocuous to deserve opposition or too conventional to arouse it.

Reinhold Niebuhr, Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic, 112.